Think You’re Ready to Compost? Let’s Talk Dirty

It’s a new year, and you may be wanting to boost your garden’s performance level next season. We have a gardening-pro secret: composting. It’s ridiculously easy and equally rewarding! Here’s a list of everything you need to know to master the art of the compost pile:

The Perfect Compost Recipe

You’ve heard compost buzzwords like “activator,” “aeration” or “carbon and nitrogen” – it can begin to sound like a complicated science project. Start your pile with three essential components: carbon-heavy elements, nitrogen-heavy elements and moisture.

  1. Carbon-heavy elements include wood, shredded cardboard and newspaper, sawdust, woodchips, straw, pine needles and shredded leaves.
  2. Nitrogen-heavy elements like coffee grounds and filters, food scraps, manure and grass clippings, ideally outweigh the carbon-heavy elements.
  3. The brown to green ratio should favor the brown or carbon components. Moisture is key; don’t forget to water the pile if the food scraps don’t provide enough moisture or rain to naturally keep it damp.

Subdue the Stink and Critters

Some homeowners worry about the stink and the pests. If you avoid spoiling the pile with certain elements, there’s no reason to worry!

Moisture is key – if it’s too high the pile can begin to stink, so water sparingly and increase aeration by adding more brown components to the mix. Avoid composting meat, bone scraps and diseased plants.

Turn Baby, Turn

Aeration is so important to the composting process. An occasional turn keeps the soil decomposing. Pro tip – invest in a compost bin with a turning handle or hand-turn the pile with a shovel. Also, make sure to add more dry or wet, brown or green and carbon or nitrogen components.

** Bonus!** — Turning the Leaves
For homeowners with big yards, ’tis the season of leaf raking. Turn those pesky leaves into a leaf-centric compost pile. Layer large amounts of shredded leaves with manure to create a vitamin-rich compost.

Article originally appeared on RE/MAX.

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